This photo is grabbed from the web.
This photo is grabbed from the web.

After reading the headlines regarding a school that allegedly stopped a salutatorian from reading her speech, I immediately reacted against the school. Without giving it second thought, I judged the school and felt for the student.

To satisfy my curiosity, I read Kristel Mallari’s speech and found myself empathizing with the school. Since this has become a national interest, some of my colleagues and I expressed our two cents on the issue, which led us to watch the video. In the video, you will see several people trying to stop the student from continuing her speech. I could not deny that I felt bad for the student because the school administrators appeared as if they were ganging up on a helpless child. If only the school allowed her to finish her speech, then it could have not been sensationalized as it is now. Some of the comments from the social media say that it needed to happen to shed light to the anomalies that schools often do in computing the grades of honor students. On the other hand, some of the netizens think that Kristel chose the wrong venue to vent her frustrations.

Here are my thoughts regarding the matter and I am looking at it from different points of view (as a lawyer, as a citizen, as a parent, and as a school owner) and after reading the speech and watching the video:

1) A graduation speech is meant to encourage and inspire and I think it is not the proper venue to vent that kind of complaint. For argument purposes, if there are anomalies and the same was not addressed at school level, the next step is to elevate it to the Department of Education for them to properly handle the matter. Although, just like what the other netizens expressed, justice might not be achieved even if the same was elevated to the Department of Education. But still, Kristel cannot take the law into her hands.

2) The school made a wrong move in stopping Kristel from continuing to deliver her speech. They should have just allowed her to finish and dealt with the matter after the ceremonies. Their action in preventing her from delivering her speech might confuse Kristel all the more and might even add to her scars. Their concerted efforts to stop Kristel made them look like fools and helped Kristel gain the public’s side.


  • Should Kristel decide to file a complaint, the school’s administrators might be held liable for child abuse if it can be proven that their actions in preventing Kristel from reading her speech affected her psychological well being;
  • The school may, on the other hand, sue for damages if they think that Kristel’s actions marred its reputation.


Rigie: Are there certain privileges that the Valedictorian will get and the Salutatorian will not? Or did the people involved just exaggerate the honor that was “rightfully” hers, and that she should “fight” for? The whole point of studying is to learn. If the school doesn’t recognize her efforts, then so what? Did she do it to get recognized by the school? Or did she do it for herself? to learn? and to have a bright future? The point here is that graduating high school with honors is cool and all, but it’s not what’s most important. The kid might be smart and all, but what she did just shows arrogance. 

LiterateLush: The difference between a Valedictiorian and a Salutatorian is that the former precedes the latter. The difference is that you came first among the rest, and not second. This makes a difference when you put it on your CV to apply for a university or a job. This makes a big difference when you made 1001% effort to reach that goal and then fall short. 

Yes, we go to school to study, but people that go up the ranks to become honor students go beyond what is required. They make studying a habit. They make huge leaps to ensure they go beyond passing. 

 It’s like going to work. It’s like doing your job. The purpose is so you can earn a living. If that were the case then why are there people who strive to become more in the work place? Why are there people who work to become managers, trainers and innovators? 

I did not see anything wrong with her speech. There was nothing arrogant about it. She was just saying she tried to make it to the top but she lost. She made a reference to cheating and not fighting fairly, but she did not point fingers or name names. If the school just kept their cool and let her finish, then this whole thing wouldn’t have exploded like it did. Regardless of the fact that the speech was not pre-approved, they should have just let her continue then have a talk with her after the ceremony. 

Having read the background story on this video, it only shows the school administrators in bad light. They acted as any guilty person would, and that is to stop the other person from finishing what they had to say. They were the more mature and more educated persons in this situation. They should have known better. 

 NOTE: The above comments were lifted in toto from

In conclusion, I would like to add that there are always two sides of the coin and it is too early to tell as to who shall  be faulted in this scandal.  To Kristel Millari, I congratulate you for finishing the race.  The Valedictory award may or may not be for you but one thing is for sure, you have survived high school with flying colors.  Off to college you go! 🙂  To the school, learn from this experience, you have to let your salutatorians finish their speech whether the same praises or castigates you.  To Deped,  better conduct your investigation in the soonest possible time so we can move on to the next issue. Lastly, to the valedictorian, I pity you for you have been in a way discredited but take this as a challenge to prove that you really deserved it.

Magandang buhay sa lahat!

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Published by Dexter Diwas

Dexter Diwas is a Strengths Advocate. He reaches the world by conducting Strengths Coaching and Strengths Awareness Sessions online for individuals, teams, and organizations. As a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, he uses Clifton-Strengths Finder Assessment to help people discover their talents, embrace what they are naturally good and start leading an engaged life. He is also a lawyer by profession and has moved from being a litigator to a full-time preventive lawyer.


  1. Dex, i looked at it in the spirit of free speech more than anything else. If a school cannot allow a person to speak freely her feelings then where else could she exercise such freedom?

  2. My take on this issue – freedom of speech is not absolute. It cannot be denied that the constitution protects our right to free speech but included in this right is the responsible use of it. There is a proper forum for everything. In this particular incident, she is free to elevate the matter to the Department of Education which is the proper venue for her concerns. There is nothing wrong for schools to allow students to speak their minds, but i guess doing it in a graduation ceremony is going beyond what is acceptable. 🙂 If we allow this in view of our right to free speech, then we will expect people barging in conferences or gatherings and the same will be justified just because they want to express their sentiments. My two cents. 🙂

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